Memories…A collaborative work on childhood memories!

Finally, we headed towards the final movement of the memory lab.

This final movement gave us a platform to choose and present any memory that somewhere pricked us. The only challenge that was incorporated within this movement unlike the others was – a collaborative work. Yes, we had this opportunity to know, explore and work with the art students of the University of Rhode Island where we had to collaborate our ideas and memory and produce work.

Well, for me the most exciting part of the collaboration was the introductory session where all the students from Srishti spoke to all the students from URI individually. The session was chaotic yet boastful at the same time. This was because we had to speak to each student individually for 5-10 minutes and decide the partner with whom we will be working with. The enthralling part of this meet was to connect with one person from the opposite end in just a few minutes.

After talking to them and knowing a bit about them, I decided to work with one of the students there. Both of us then teamed up with my peer and friend here at Srishti and commenced working on the collaboration.

Me and my friend were initially thinking of working with memories and technology. While we chatted and gained a little more knowledge about the type of work that the URI students were doing, we discovered that this memory collaboration was a part of their photography assignment.

Both of us here started brainstorming to come up with a concept that could engulf the memories of all three of us. After having discussions and exchanging a couple of e-mails, we three froze the topic for working on for this movement – childhood memories. The aspect that we chose to work on within childhood memories was ‘fun, sports and games’.

Both of us here at Srishti, had made it a point that if the work was a collaboration, it should look like one. For the same reason, we went about clubbing the memories of the three of us and producing an artwork. Philomena – our URI partner, had decided to work with the memory associated with her childhood toys. Likewise, my peer here derived her inspiration from the winning and participation in sports events at school and state level and my memory was inspired from a small game that me and my cousins had set up as a part of a ‘fun fair’ when I was a kid. My memory inspired me to think of the overall concept of our work – to peep through the memories. Peeping for the reason that whenever we trace back a memory or think about an event of the past, we never have a clear and complete picture about that event instantly. We always think about specific aspects of that memory. I intended to use the form of my memory as peepholes for viewing the memories of the past of my peer’s and Philomena’s.



We froze our idea of installation with the memories in the form of photo frames and digital flip book being peeped through the peep holes.

Well, it was fun to work as a group and create the installation. We managed to get the photographs from Philomena in time which were to be complied as a flip book to set up for the exhibition.

The day of the exhibition arrived. We installed our works exactly the way we had ideated. Well, after the work was installed in the gallery space, I encountered and concluded certain things about our work.




First of all, I liked my idea of peeping through the memories but felt that the structure that we had created could not justify the action of peeping. If at all the holes would have been smaller and lesser (opened), the action of peeping could have been achieved. It would have made the viewer more curious and inquisitive to peep into the memories.





Video of the photographs clicked by Philomena…


Secondly, I was not quite happy with the presentation. I felt that if at all the set up behind the holes could have been rendered a little more old visually, the whole setup could have worked out well. Certain elements like the trophies and the laptop didn’t add the touch and feeling of being old.

Lastly, I felt that if at all we would have got some quality time to discuss our collaboration with the URI students, things must have been better.

As this is the last segment of the memory lab, I discovered quite a few things about working with memories.

I discovered that memory is just a trigger or an inspiration of work. It is never possible to recreate the same memory the way it was. 

I genuinely felt the lack and need of research in my works. I now am determined to work further with a prior research towards any kind of work.






Student Self Evaluation Report!

Student Name: Surabhi Singhal

Year of Enrollment: 2012

Focus Area/ Program: Advanced Diploma Program (Open Pathway)

Program Advisor/ Mentor: Smriti


1. PROJECT TITLE: Why did you choose this project and what was involved in the decision making process?


I chose this project because the aim of this project was to represent memories in any medium of one’s own choice. I could relate this representation to my own practice of Interior Design where we have to inculcate feelings in a space. I thought that if I will find the way and develop the process of representing memories in a physical form, I would definitely develop my creative and concept development skills to incorporate certain set of feelings in a particular space. Moreover, I was free to choose the medium for execution and I chose to use 3D medium.


 2. SUBJECT: Reflect on the subject matter of your chosen project and the breadth of research that you have conducted on this subject?

While working in the memory lab, we have been constantly working on presenting memories. Although these are personal memories every time, we relate our memories to specific subjects.

The most challenging part of the memory lab while working throughout was to decide which memory to choose and above that which memory should be exposed and executed. The other most challenging part was to represent the memory altogether.

For the first movement that we worked on, we had to present either a happy or traumatic memory from our lives. We had to link our memory to an archival object which reminded us of that memory.

For this movement, I worked on my memory of a trial/changing room in a garment shop. I remembered how in a changing room the mirrors were placed parallel to each other and reflected infinite images of myself when I used to try a cloth on. It became difficult for me to understand which part to look at. I linked this memory with a new T-shirt as an archival object because it was a garment which reminded me of the changing room. For execution of my memory, I created a trial room with mirrors placed on all its sides. To make the space more interesting, I used a prism-like structure. The viewers were allowed to enter inside and try on the clothes that were kept inside. This set-up in the gallery, made the viewers feel what I intended them to feel. I received feedbacks that mentioned that the space triggered their own memories. The suggestion that I received was to increase the wardrobe options inside the changing room.

For the second movement of the memory lab, we had to work with our memories in a way that we link any political history of the nation/world to our memory in a way that it shows our identity.

For this movement, I really had to think hard about the memory that I might or might not have. After thinking a lot and talking to my relatives, I recalled a memory. This was about the stories that my grandfather used to recite in front of us telling us about his experiences. I remembered how I used to paint while listening to him while sitting in the veranda and slowly leave the canvas and join the rest of the group to listen to him.

I remembered one of his stories which were directly related to the history of the nation. In 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated, there were huge riots in the country among the Sikhs and the Hindus as a retaliatory violence. My grandfather had a few Sikh friends who were in danger of losing their lives. He thus, gave them refuge in our house for a week and looked after their food and shelter.

Listening to him, I had various images of him and his friends in our house. For representing this memory, I painted the image of my mind on canvas. I decided to portray the difference in the inside and the outside atmospheres at the time of the riots. I thus crated a room symbolising a house with a dining space in it. I placed my canvas in that room in the same position as I used to leave it while listening to grandpa. On the outside, I projected the video of the violence that was happening outside that house.

The viewers who visited my installation in the gallery, saw the video and experienced the violence outside, and as soon as they entered the inside they could feel the comfort and fear of the surroundings.

I was successful in achieving my desired output as received appreciation from the viewers. It was a wonderful experience to create the human-scale space myself with wooden frames and thermocol.


3. AIMS/OBJECTIVES/CONCEPTS: How and to what extent have you achieved the aim and objectives of the project? Describe the main concept driving the project.

The main objective of this project was to represent memories. I have always worked for all the projects in this lab in a way that the viewer is able to experience exactly what I had experienced in that memory and I can proudly say that I was very well able to achieve what I intended to achieve. The viewers laid their feedbacks and confessed that they recalled their experiences and could very well get the feel of the spaces that were created.


 4. AUDIENCE: Are you addressing a specific audience with your work within this project? For example, a specific community, your peers, members of your family, a corporation or business, educators, patients of a hospital department, government agencies? 

 Although we have always had audiences who are artists and designers, but I, personally have always made it a point that a person who is not an artist also easily understands and experiences the feel of my work.

I have always thought about the audiences in a way that whatever I am doing or will be doing won’t be limited to the people of only my own field. A common man who is not capable enough to grasp and understand the concept should still be able to connect with my work


 5. CONTEXT: What is the context of your project? Is it going to be viewed in a gallery space, on the Internet, within a community space, in the public domain?

Well, so far we have had two main projects and we are working towards the development of the third project in collaboration with the students of University of Rhode Island.

My current projects are produced for a gallery space and we have had two exhibitions so far and working towards the third one.


6. FORM/MEDIUM/PRESENTATION: What are the forms and methods of presentation that you are working with? Have you chosen these yourself or were they a part of the project requirements? From the work you have done so far, have you gained any insights on your approach to making, doing and documenting?

 In our project, the liberty of choosing medium of presentation lied with us. I had been working with human-scale installations and creating spaces. In addition to this, I have learned to edit videos and have been working with sound and videos. Sound had been a mandatory medium for our projects.

From whatever I have done so far I have realised that I have to work on improvising the quality of my work. Although I have been very clearly able to achieve my objective but the presentation is not self-satisfactory. Documenting whatever I have been doing has helped to know myself in terms of my interests and desires better.

7. RESEARCH METHODS: What kind of research methods are you using to research the project work in depth, and how has your research informed your process?

 For taking the project further, I read the texts that are relevant to the topic. I try to understand the topic better and what is it that it exactly calls for.

This is worth mentioning, having the Qualitative Research Methods course for the semester has really helped to understand the need of research and its benefits.


 8. REFERENCES: How useful were the references you explored so far- the artists, anthropologists, designers, writers or other practitioners? 

Some of the references were really helpful and gave a new insight for looking at the problem. These references made the objective clearer. The others though seemed a bit irrelevant for the work which was to be done, but were interesting to read.

9. POSITION & RELATIONSHIP: How do you think your project would function in, or be positioned to contribute to, similar contemporary fields of production? 

 I feel that whatever work I have done so far had a new element in terms of the output and execution. Even though I had been using references to understand the topics better and browsed some of the works that have been done related to the memories, I felt that my intention of adding a feel to my work stands out. As my work is not only meant for interpretation but also inculcates some kind of feel in the viewer, it adds a new dimension to the field.

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS… approach towards developing a new insight…!

When I started with this course, it was absolutely hazy for me to see the reasons for learning the methods of research.

I was not at all able to connect the reasons to our course. We soon got linked to a government school which was mainly for the students coming from the families below the poverty line. We visited the school a couple of times before we had to choose and finalize our research questions. I chose to research on “Relationships at School”. My research question was framed like this – “What kind of relationships are formed among the students and in between the students and the teachers at school?” I felt that researching relationships was important because it helps in knowing what helps a teacher or a student react in a particular way (negative or positive), how they work together, how they store or share things. All this leads to the formation of a better education system. Also, all this was important for me because I was carrying out this research with a thought of developing a space for carrying out various activities and studies at a school. an

Before going out to the school for observations, we ready the texts from Paulo Freire and Gandhi’s Nai Talim to have a better understanding of the scholl and its traditional way of working and the view points of the different writers.

Every week, we visited the school, met the children, spoke to them and made various observations with the help of our various senses. We observed with eyes, ears, nose, tongue and the brain.

We made the field notes for keeping the observations collectively. After we had a little understanding of the school and its curriculum, we further disaggregated our research questions into various fragments that would lead us to the answer of the main question. These were the sub questions.

We further simplified our research by building mind maps or affinity diagrams that exactly pointed towards those aspects of research that were important for getting the answers to the sub question.


After coming to the main points of the main question, we built our research plan, which was a document that included the sub-questions, the number of interviews that were to be taken for carrying out our research, the focus groups that were to be performed for getting the answers indirectly from the people of the school.

When we had finally prepared our research plans, we went back to look at the works and studies that have already been performed on the chosen topics. I chose to read – Exploring the bias: Gender and Stereotyping in Secondary Schools by Elspeth Page and Jyothsna Jha, Attachment theory and the teacher-student relationship by Philip Riley and Social Life in School by Peter Blatchford for knowing what had already been said about the relationships at school at various levels.

We further made the interview guides for interviewing the teachers and the students on the key points. We recorded the interview and later prepared the transcripts of all the interviews that were taken for our better understanding of their idea and thoughts.

Finally, when we had all the data in hand – the field notes of various days, the interview transcripts, the readings and their specific points and the data of the focus groups, it was time to analyse the data. It was time to come up with the basic analysis and taking any one observation further so that it adds to the information on that topic.

I analyzed the data and concluded that “Although the students are very friendly among themselves at school, they tend to develop misunderstanding if confronted by their own friends against their wrong actions” and “The student-teacher bond, although formal is very strong but the generation gap between the students and the teachers at school adds to the ambiguity of understanding relations at school“.

I am still thinking about that small point that I can take further and make a statement which adds to the existing theories of relationships at school.

After completing the research, we put up an exhibition at the school where we displayed the key points of observations and conclusions of our research. The management and faculty appreciated our effort and were looking forward to the changes that could be made to improve the school that were shown in our research reports.











By the end of the course,I was very much capable of answering my own question of ‘What is the importance of research methods and why this course’. I discovered that for carrying out any new discovery, or for building anything new, it is very important to know what has been done already and how do the people and the things around you behave.

The complete methodology of defining the topic and question of interest, then dis-aggregating it for better understanding, then observing the elements related to the sub-topics, reading and viewing existing material, talking and listening to the people’s point of view and finally analysing the data, leads to a new discovery. It struck to me that this is what I was looking forward to do further – to have my own new ideas and methods of design. The process has finally defined the approach to carry on my desire of innovation in design further.



Gallery 2 – Identity with the sense of historicty!

In the memory lab gallery of the second movement, we shared stories of collective history, with a personal twist. These stories highlighted the influences that have been drawn from the ancestral reigns and recorded by the voices of the families. The underlying forces of history flew within these stories in a timeless way.

I worked on this project with my memory of my grandfather telling us the stories of his past experiences while we used to sit leisurely in the verandah and how I used to paint while listening to him and slowly joined the rest who were listening, leaving my canvas.

I was able to recall one of his experiences which was related to the 1984 riots between the Sikhs and the Hindus. He told us that after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984, the prime minister of India then, there was a retaliatory violence all over the country. Everywhere the Sikhs and the Hindus murdered each other. That time, he gave shelter to four/five of his Sikh friends in our house and for a week looked after their food and clothing before transferring them to a safer place.

Remembering his memory, I developed my artwork where I intended to portray how at the times of these conflicts, there must be chaos and violence outside the house to the contradictory calmness and fear inside the house. I incorporated my images of my grandfather’s story onto my canvas. Thus, I used the canvas as my archival object.


After knowing what I had to portray and make the people feel, it was a little difficult for me to figure out how should I execute what I was thinking. A couple of days went by. And suddenly, while discussing my concept with someone, it popped in my head, why shouldn’t I create a house? A human-scale space which can be thought of a house. That would be the best way to make the viewer feel what my grandfather must have felt then. Bingo! 

I immediately started to think over the constructional elements and the materials that I would use for creating the house-like space. Initially I had thought of using mount-board sheets but as soon as I went to the market for purchasing them, my eyes rolled over the thermocol sheets. I don’t remember what went wrong in my head when I purchased a huge bundle of thermocol. Maybe the size carried me away. I never thought initially how trouble-some it would be to work with thermocol. Apart from that, I didn’t even think how the structure will be made to stand thermocol….the lightest material. 

After discussing the structure with a couple of my friends, I decided to create a wooden-frame skeleton and then covering the frame with thermocol sheets.

On the day of the exhibition, I started working on the wooden framing on site. within a span of 3 hours, I was able to complete the structure.



 Then I started placing the thermocol sheets on the frame with the two-way tape.





I soon finished the structure. Placed the table and chairs inside the space and the canvas and the related things outside.






My idea was to project the video of the events that took place back in 1984 on the backside of the house and on the opposite side, that is on the entrance side, I placed the canvas outside and let people enter inside after gazing at the image. 

Although the idea sounds complete, it did not work out. When the visitors came in to visit the exhibition, they could not relate to the outside and the inside. Apart from that, they were unable to point that the video was a part of my artwork. The first day of the exhibition turned out to be pathetic for me. As my idea was not being conveyed to the viewers, the thermocol pieces were repeatedly falling off their places and I didn’t even work on the element of light inside the house. It never occurred to me that as the exhibition was to be held in the evening, light would be important. I gave up for the day and had made it a point that the next day  I will definitely fix everything and make my presentation better.

On the next day, I went a couple of hours earlier to the gallery as I was prepared to see my structure naked. I was ready to make the changes that I had thought of initially.

First of all, I turned my piece at an angle of 180 degrees, so that the entrance of the house was at the same side as that of the projection. I then put all the thermocol sheets in place by binding them together with the packing tape so that they stay intact and do not fall off. I placed the canvas inside the house and added certain other elements to give it a homely feel, like the eatables and the tea pots. I lit the house by adding candles to the place. And last, but not the least, I had already changed the sound of the video which was now different and in contrast to the sound inside the house unlike the day before. Everything fell in place the second day.







The viewers could now clearly see what I wanted them to see. They could connect the inside and the outside. They could feel the coziness of the house an the happenings outside the house.

One of the visitors added a different meaning to my concept. As the structure of Jaaga was made up of waste materials and mild steel framing, the floor trembled while anyone walked on it. So, the viewer felt that the shaking of the  floor was the violence outside and one could feel the tremors inside which added to the fear.

While working in the memory lab for this project, I went through and experienced all the steps of execution of any idea very deeply. The project was interesting and stressful at the same time which made it more challenging. I dealt with a comparatively new material this time – thermocol, and now I very well know where to use it and how to use it. 

I was able to notice advancement within myself in terms of new ideas. Finally, the exhibition ended well because I was able to achieve what I wanted to



MEMORY LAB: Closing first movement…

The ‘MEMORY’ Lab! The name of the lab directly relates to the term ‘memory’. A lab where memories take a physical form, a form of an image and where sound plays the role of the teacher which tries to incorporate the depth of the image of the memory in the viewers’ soul…

My experience in the memory lab has been quite innovative. A thought that struck me here was incorporating sound in my works. Although sound was a mandatory part of the lab but it opened an all new definition for me of refining spaces and pieces and forms by adding to the feel of the element. I discovered that sound can do wonders at dead places and dead scenes. It can revive the idea and concept of a design.

Working in  the memory lab until now has been quite beneficial. I would definitely like to point out one way in which it has been beneficial for me. For this, I would like to be grateful to my classmates who have worked very well for their projects and set a level to look upon. It was wonderful to see at once, how the imaginations and memories together had taken up a shape of the various types of images. The works gave me some sort of inspiration to keep up my medium and go on with representation.

As I have made a point to work in a 3D medium, I had a lot of scope to think and innovate. This lab has brought out in me what I was looking forward to study and develop further – ideation, concept development, creativity. The lab compels one to think hard about their memories (it is funny and strange but true). It is quite difficult to re-collect all the memories in mind in an orderly fashion and decide the appropriate memory for display in some form. The discussions that we have in class regarding the topics that are assigned for the presentation of your next memory and the discussions with the other classmates and their works, help a great deal to work on the memory that one feels apt to be displayed.

Since the day we have started with the memory lab, I have been trying to figure out how the memories play a role, any role in present life. The movies and documentaries that we watched in class, like Citizen Kane, etc. have brought out very interesting role of memories of discovering someone or something only on the basis of descriptions, some facts and interviews with people who are supposedly close to the subject. The other fact that I realised while fiddling with my memories was that…whatever I am today is the result of whatever has happened in the past. No one can ever tell a person to be or not to be what they are and even if you are one of the persons who have influenced someone’s personality, you are definitely in a memory of that person. This realization helped me to produce a project work at the lab.

The exercise was to dis-aggregate your memories in a way that they portray ‘Who you Are’ and form a story. I thought of myself as ‘who I am’ – thoughtful, friendly, boastful, ambitious, loving, rebellious and stubborn. Then I looked back and thought of when can I recall the incidents where I can portray these qualities of my own self. It was then when I recalled and realised that the incidents I was thinking about are actually the ones that have made me what I am! It thus became easier for me to form a story out of the chunks of memories in my mind. Again, as I wanted to use a non 2D medium, I ended up working in a new style – ‘performance’. I enjoyed editing the sound track for this performance and using symbolism for various attributes of the performance. For example, I used a frame where I showed that I was painting myself, which was a symbol for “Who Am I?” I edited the sound track in a way such that the dialogues that I wanted to use in the scenes for other people were recorded and my dialogues were produced live. The story overall came out well but I was dissatisfied with the presentation. If at all I would have had a little more time, I would have been able to present it well. Probably I will have to learn ‘Time Management’ at Srishti as well.

The project that followed this one was to reflect your own self on an object close to your memory. The outcome of this project was supposed to be physical in existence for everyone as this was going to be the part of the Srishti Gallery. 

I again had to think hard for getting memories in order in my head and suddenly ‘reflection’ with its true meaning reflected in my mind. All I could remember was the infinite number of reflections formed by the parallel placement of mirrors to each other that I gazed upon in a trial/changing room when I went shopping for clothes. It was so difficult to concentrate on one and to figure out which is my right and which is the left and in which reflection. I finally decided to work on this memory for the gallery and just to make the reflections a little more interesting, I thought of placing the mirrors at the sides of a prism-like structure rather than a cuboidal (the usual). The concept of my work was finally finalised.




I, now was thinking of how should I produce the structure.I, first got the model made in the cuboidal form to figure out the cost and execution of the original structure. After I figured out the material requirement and cost estimation (Labor charge was nullified against my own hard work), I went to the wooden workshop to ask David, the workshop assistant, for guidance for making the structure. To my surprise and horror, David showed me a structure which was exactly what I was going to produce apart from the entrance to the inside. I immediately rushed to the concerned authorities for taking permissions of transporting the structure from its current place to the gallery venue. ///it took me four-five hours for taking permissions, waiting for people and getting the structure transported from its original place to the venue. Mixed emotions is what I was filled with. For giving the viewer a changing room feel, I had to install hooks and garments on the inside of the space that I had created. I thus went around the market for buying some suction hooks and a couple of T-shirts. As this reflection was closely linked to cloth, I decided to take the feedbacks of the visitors on the object linked to my memory – a garment. I thus used a T-shirt for recording the experiences of the viewer inside the space and their feed backs.


The setup



There were a range of feed backs that I received from the viewers on representation of my memory. All of them found the idea interesting. One suggestion that I took into consideration was to increase the wardrobe options. I had one very interesting conversation with Geetu, the ADP coordinator. When I told her ‘trial room’ she misunderstood it for the court trial room and she discussed the whole thing with me thinking the concept to be how the trial room reflects different aspects or natures of a person. It was only when she asked me that “Why and when did you have to go to the trial room”, then I discovered something is fishy and I told her, “Of course we go to the ‘changing room’ for trying on different garments to buy them”. Ultimately we ended up laughing and discovering a new interpretation of the work that was installed.











So far, I have been loving being a part of the memory lab. I like the way discussions are carried out, the way works of all the students are presented and discussed upon and the way the work does not feel like a burden. I love visiting various places at Bangalore for exploring and appreciating the scope of art, design and technology.

I had visited NGMA (National Gallery of Modern Art), Bangalore for looking at the artwork. A couple of paintings caught my attention which are described as ‘punctum’ by Rholand Barthes’s interpretation of Camera Lucida’s text. A painting titled ‘RADHIKA’ made in wash & tempera on paper by M.A.R. Chughtai portrayed two opposite gender human figures surrounded by nature. Feeling of love and romance was clearly reflected in the art work. The painting expressed calmness and togetherness. The woman’s expressions clearly depicted feelings of loyalty, shyness and trustworthiness.A sort of contentment was felt in the piece of art.

Another painting titled, ‘SHELTER’ which was made in oil colors on canvas by Ramkinkar Baij met my eye. Expressions full of worry, longing and anxiety were clearly seen in this work. One character clearly portrayed ‘thoughtfulness’ and ‘care’ at one angle and fear at the other. This fear must be about thinking the consequences of being late.

It was a beautiful afternoon that was occupied by art and calmness.

I happened to be a part of another event at Galleryske at Langford Town. It was a screening of a 1927 silent film named ‘A Throw of Dice’. The interesting part about the screening was the live music which was created  by Jatin Vidyarthi. The background music was as interesting as the content of the film. The Indo-classical fusion was beautifully complementing the theme of the movie. I personally liked the ambience of the place where the  film was screened, under open sky with the shelter of a tree foliage. Again the evening happened to be amazingly beautiful and I once again realised the influence of music.


The Galleryske